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Law passes increasing owner penalties in dog on dog attacks

by Tyler Baldwin / Natalie Rivers

azfamily.com

Posted on April 21, 2011 at 1:26 PM

PHOENIX - Just before the deadline, lawmakers at the State Capitol were able to pass a new law that increases the penalties for people who can't control their aggressive dogs.

This law was years in the making, championed by a Glendale couple whose dog was killed by a pit bull.

At the time of the attack, according to state law, the owner of dog whose pet attacked and killed another dog  was not penalized.

Richard and Sally Andrade turned their tragedy into a fight for new legislation addressing dog attacks.

The Andrades spend their days playing in the backyard with their miniature poodles. They often refer to their pups as family.

In September of 2009 when they lost their dog, Fabian, they called the police and were devastated when they found out the owner of the killer canine was only going to receive a leash law violation. According to state law, dogs and cats are simply considered property and there were no laws addressing dog-on-dog attacks.

After watching a news story on 3TV about a pit bull that had killed a couple of dogs at Chaparral Park in Scottsdale, they decided something needed to change.

They began sending out thousands of flyers.

They started up a website, www.fabianslaw.com.

They went on a media blitz, talking to newspapers, TV stations and radio stations across the country.

Friends began calling them lobbyists.

“We never considered ourselves lobbyists, we just knew something needed to be done,” Richard said.

Getting legislation through the State Capitol took an emotional toll on the family. A bill working its way through in the fall session passed the House, but stalled in the Senate.

“I began to ask God, why us,” Richard said.

After a year of work, HB 2137 is headed to the Governor’s desk for her signature.

The bill makes it a misdemeanor if a dog, classified as aggressive, attacks a person or domestic animal. The owner can also get hit with a misdemeanor if the aggressive dog escapes the owner’s yard or leash.

Both of the Andrade’s begin to tear up as they think about the impact this law will have.

“We had so much support. Lives will be saved because of this law,” Sally said.

There are also increased penalties for attacks on people.
 

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